Wildcat Creek Landuse History 1900-1950: Urban Landscape

Impact Map — 1900-1950

Watershed View — ca. 1950

Viewing Wildcat Creek from San Pablo Bay on a low tide in 1950, one would see vastly expanded mudflats that cover nearly twice their 1900 area. Most of the diked baylands of the previous period have been filled; yet, ironically, the area of fully-tidal marshlands has increased. Where there is no fill, the tides have washed away nearly all traces of the earlier levees, and over 100 acres of new marsh has aggraded at the mouth of San Pablo Creek. The entry to Wildcat Creek now follows a deepwater shipping channel dredged through the marsh to serve the oil refinery located on the Potrero and former marshland. Turning east towards Wildcat Creek from the shipping channel, the slough passes a remnant levee and row of fishing shacks.

On the Alluvial Plain, agriculture has expanded bayward to use the new alluvial sediment deposited over the salt marsh, and the Creek channel has, naturally or by human influence, straightened below the railroad tracks. A large gap in riparian forest has appeared between 23rd and Church Streets. Except for along the lowest reaches of Wildcat and San Pablo Creeks, urban development has replaced nearly all of the earlier farming and ranching. Most of this change has taken place during a short period; about two-thirds of the development occurred during 1940-1945. Along with the housing, an urban forest has begun to grow.

Activity in the Canyon has also been intense, leading to numerous new trails and roads. Large areas have been planted in eucalyptus or pine plantations, and the dams for Jewel Lake and Lake Anza have been constructed. With the creation of Tilden Regional Park, the upper part of the Canyon has been removed from grazing. Fires, which had been fairly common along the urban edge of the Canyon, are now more actively suppressed. While most of the Upper Canyon is now protected from urban development, some housing, and associated urban trees, have entered the Canyon along the southwest edge.